How Sebastian Got Its Name
by Daniel Clark
c 1998 North Indian River County Library
In east central Turkey, on the Kizil
Irmak River, lies the city of Siva. Two
thousand years ago Turkey was Asia Minor,
and the city was called Sebastia.
Even earlier, it was known as Diospolis
- "City of Zeus." They spoke Greek there.
Then the Romans took charge. It was time to
shift allegiance to a new god. They turned
away from Zeus and bowed to Caesar Augustus.
Translating Augustus into Greek, they
came up with Sebastos - "great,"
"magnificent," "revered." Thence Sebastia,
the city of the revered one.
In the third century AD, a young man
from Sebastia joined the Roman army. His
name is lost. All we know is he was called
Sebastian, the man from Sebastia. He
converted to Christianity. And met the fate
of many a Christian. His fellow officers
shot him full of arrows as he prayed. The
martyr was later canonized as Saint
In the seventeenth century, Spanish
explorers sailing along our long lagoon
(they called it Rio d'Ays after the local
Ays people) spied a river emptying into it.
It probably was the feast day of St.
Sebastian. They named the river after the
Later, the British went along with that.
St. Sebastian River it was - and is.
As Europeans and Americans settled
just south of the river, a naming process
for the place began. The first postmaster,
a Rev. New, decided on New Haven. This
burst of vainglory was squelched by the
second postmaster. He took the river's
name and gave it to the village. Thus
Sebastian, Florida was born.
For more than 2000 years, the Turkish
city has enjoyed importance as a political
and commercial center. Today you can buy
beautiful rugs there. Our Sebastian is
only a hundred years old. What will it be
like after its own twenty centuries of